The 113th Welsh Cross Country Championships takes place in Swansea on Saturday 25th February.
The undulating and scenic course at Singleton Park has a great history of holding the championships.
Dewi Griffiths (Swansea Harriers) will aim to take a record sixth consecutive Welsh Cross Country title in the senior men’s race.
The Swansea Harrier equalled Steve Jones’ record in 2016 and will now hope to move a step closer to Jones’ record total of nine titles.
Griffiths will be a big favourite for the men's title
Griffiths closest competition is likely to come from his clubmate Kristian Jones. Griffiths however beat Jones recently at the Armagh Road Races where the pair were 3rd and 5th respectively. He also beat Jones at the British Athletics Cardiff Cross Challenge in January and is the current UK Inter-Counties Champion.
Iolo Hughes (Sale Harriers), Carwyn Jones (Cardiff AAC) and Swansea Harriers trio Marc Hobbs, Guy Smith and Jon Tobin will all also hope to contest the podium places.
Swansea Harriers are similarly unlikely to be stopped from retaining their team title with rivals Cardiff AAC not likely to match them despite being the current National Six Stage Road Relay Champions.
The senior women’s race is likely to see a battle between the Welsh 10km champion, Clara Evans (Pontypridd Roadents) and Natasha Cockram (Cwmbran Harriers) who returns to competition in Wales following an athletics scholarship at Tulsa University.
Alaw Beynon-Thomas and Kate Roberts will lead the Swansea Harriers team with Carys Hughes and Lucy Marland heading the Cardiff AAC team. The two are likely to contest for the club title here with Swansea starting as the defending champions.
Cardiff man Jake Heyward will start as favourite in the U20 men’s race, backed up by club mate Ciaran Lewis. Heyward won the U17 men’s crown 12 months ago and in July 2016 became the European Youth 1500m Champion. Oliver Dickinson of Wells City is also likely to feature.
Cari Hughes is another Uk Inter-Counties Champion set to compete in Swansea. Her title last February came at U17 level but this time she will contest the U20 race. Heidi Davies of Brecon AC should be the closest match for the athlete who made her Great Britain & Northern Ireland debut at Edinburgh in January.
Cari Hughes pictured winning the Cardiff Cross Challenge
The U17 men’s race should be highly competitive, featuring the top three athletes from the British Athletics Cross Challenge standings. Dominic Smith of Swansea Harriers leads, with the 2016 English Schools Champion, Matthew Willis of Wrexham in second and Oliver Barbaresi of Menai Track & Field third.
The U17 women’s race will also feature a large number of athletes that are used to competing against each other. The Cardiff contingent is particularly strong here and will include; Carys Bill, Abi Fisher and Kiara Frizelle.
Mia Roberts (Deeside AAC) will start the U15 girls race as a large favourite. Roberts will toe the line on Saturday as the current Welsh Cross Country, Welsh Schools, Welsh Inter-Regional and Cardiff Cross Challenge Champion. Caitlin Gwyther (Swansea Harriers) should also feature here.
James Penrose (Cardiff Archers) will hope to retain the U15 boys title. Osian Perrin won the U13 boys title last time but will contest the U15 boys race this time.
Jacob Reynolds (Cardiff AAC) is the highest place athlete from last year’s championships that remains in the U13 boys age-group. He is the Welsh Schools and Welsh Inter-Regional Champion.
Samia Jones (Menai Track & Field) will lead her clubs chances in the U13 girls race. Daisy Thompson will head a large Carmarthen Harriers team. Neisha Roberts (Deeside AAC) will try to emulate her sister Mia’s recent Championship successes with victory here. The younger athlete lies third in the British Athletics Cross Challenge Series.